Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $1,999,680)
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors offices to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) - i.e. those SAKs that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory.
The goal of the SAKI is the creation of a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to these cases whenever possible through a victim-centered approach, as well as to build jurisdictions capacity to prevent the development of conditions that lead to high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in the future. The holistic program provides jurisdictions with resources to address their unsubmitted SAK issue, including support to inventory, test, and track SAKs; create and report performance metrics; access necessary training to increase effectiveness in addressing the complex issues associated with these cases and engage in multidisciplinary policy development, implementation, and coordination; and improve practices related to investigation, prosecution, and victim engagement and support in connection with evidence and cases resulting from the testing process.
The Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice will use this 2015 SAKI award to reform the handling of sexual assault cases in Salt Lake County, Utah, by establishing a multidisciplinary, victim-centered approach to resolve cases from unsubmitted SAKs, and developing community measures to prevent future collections of unsubmitted SAKs. The recipient will establish a multidisciplinary working group, The Salt Lake County Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kit (USAK) Working Group, to develop comprehensive strategies to track, investigate and prosecute all sexual assault cases stemming from DNA analysis of previously USAKs. The USAK will verify the 2014 inventory of unsubmitted SAKs; establish guidelines for SAK evidence destruction; track the unsubmitted SAKs; test the unsubmitted SAKs; identify challenges related to testing SAKs; identify solutions to improve efficiency of DNA screening and analysis; produce protocols and policies to support improved coordination between all agencies involved in sexual assault cases; establish resources for investigations and prosecutions resulting from testing the previously unsubmitted SAKs; establish resources to optimize and support victim notification protocols and services; and develop a tracking system linking data on SAKs from UBFS, SANEs, law enforcement, and prosecutors to improve coordination of all services while allowing victims full access to upload information about their SAKs and cases.